All my dairy-free readers are going to fall in love with this recipe. Every time I make this cashew cream non-cheese and let someone have a taste, the first word to come out of their mouth is YUM! I often eat this with raw crackers (recipe to come) or spread it on some wild smoked salmon…Mmmm my mouth is literally watering just thinking about it!
1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked for two hours)
Juice of one lemon
3 large cloves garlic (use 4 if the cloves are small)
4 tablespoons of fresh dill chopped
1 chive, thinly sliced (I only use the light green part, so I use 2 chives)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup filtered water
To soak the cashews, place them in a medium bowl with water. The water should be about 1-2 inches above the top of the cashews.
Drain cashews after two hours and place all of the ingredients, except the 1/3 cup filtered water, in a food processor or high speed blender (I prefer using a processor for this particular recipe, but a blender works well too). Slowly increase the speed and blend for about 1 minute. With a spatula, scrap down the sides, pour in the filtered water and blend for another few minutes. Pour contents in a mason jar with a tight lid, and store in the fridge for 12-14 hours to thicken and then it’s ready to eat. This recipe can be stored in the fridge for about a week.
Let’s face it, taking responsibility for your health, initially, can feel painful. It requires withdrawal from your favourite foods; time away from lounging on the couch and watching the bachelor (admit it you watch it); it often means you have to learn to pre-plan meals and perhaps adopt the habit of carrying a snack-pack full of celery (yummy) just in case hunger strikes at an inopportune time or place. Then of course, there is that social factor. It’s not uncommon for those around you to so generously provide you with ample opportunities to display that willpower you have been so actively exercising. It’s not bad enough that you have to convince your brain that you are enjoying that celery as much as your co-worker is enjoying that glazed donut they are stuffing down their face. It took a lot of self reflection to come to a place in life where being called a “rabbit” for eating salad didn’t retard my progress by making me feel a sense of shame. By the way, if you would take great offence if someone referred to you as a slightly larger, pink barn-yard animal with a snout and curly tail, then chances are that that person doesn’t appreciate being labelled as a “rabbit’ or any other barn-yard animal either–just saying.
Perhaps my all time favourite is when, while stuffing their face with that donut, one says “Well, I’d rather eat this and die happy.” A brief moment of deep panic sets in as you fear you may not have your priorities straight. Not only is Mr. Donut-Face more up-to-date with today’s important current events–like who the bachelor picked–but he has also somehow convinced you that you are going to wither down to the size of a rabbit and may die a miserable old hag! Oh, ya “I’d rather die happy” why didn’t I think of that? Well, if eating whatever your heart desires makes you happy, then who can argue with that? Oh wait… that’s right, I can!
Unless you are planning on dying in the next few minutes with that said donut in your hands, then you will not die any happier than the person who learned to say no to instant gratification. In actuality, if your goal at the end of your life is to in fact “die happy”, then you need to very carefully step away from the donut and arm yourself with a few new habits instead.
5 Ways to Die Happier
We are all aware that over-consumption of sugar is a primary factor in developing type 2 (insulin resistance) diabetes. You may also know that type 2 diabetes can rob you of many of the joys in life, for example sight or mobility. Diabetes can ultimately lead to blurred vision, nerve damage and loss of feeling in your feet, but what many of us aren’t aware of is that researchers have known for some time that there is a strong link between type 2 diabetes and dementia. The research estimates that you are 125% more likely to become demented in your later years if you have diabetes. I don’t know about you, but I would assume that it would be pretty hard to die happy if you can’t remember any of the things in life you are happy about.
The old adage “Use it or lose it” very much applies to your brain. Continually using your brain and learning new things has proven to keep your mind sharp well into your older years. Take advantage and double up by educating yourself on what it truly takes to live longer and happier starting here, with 4 more facts you didn’t know about your brain and body.
In a past post, “Say No to Crack” I explain how a high sugar diet leads to increased abdominal fat. Studies show that those with increased abdominal fat are at greater risk of developing heart disease. While I have been fortunate enough to have never had to experience watching someone die of a heart attack, I’d would say it’s probably fairly safe to assume that they didn’t die smiling. People with belly fat tend to have higher levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which would indicate that not only are they no happier, but they are actually more stressed out.
The good news is that a whole-food, high fibre diet, rich in essential fatty acids can actually decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
The nutrients you get from your diet are what your brain needs to make “happy hormones” like serotonin or dopamine. Nutrient deficiencies can mean that your brain literally cannot produce the chemicals that evoke good feelings. Even one missing nutrient can pose a threat. It’s kind of like baking, you leave one thing out and the whole recipe is write-off. You may say “Can I eat a salad and then eat the donut?” The truth is…not really. Because refined foods are stripped of their nutrients, they can actually steal from your body the nutrients they need to be metabolized. Many of the nutrients missing in refined sugar–that it then loots from your body–are the exact nutrients your brain would need to make these pleasure inducing chemicals.
You can increase absorption and assimilation of nutrients by working on digestive health. Eliminating refined or processed foods; eating a variety of whole-foods; drinking plenty of water between meals; thoroughly chewing your meals; eating only when you are actually hungry (not bored, craving or overeating); and keeping a peaceful state mind at meal time, are some of the most effective ways to support the digestive system, making it easier to obtain adequate levels of nutrition for all your body’s biochemical processes.
The reason why one might initially feel happy when they eat sugar is largely because sugar causes large amounts of dopamine to be released in your brain. When large quantities are released at once–or all day long for that matter–the dopamine receptors in your brain then down-regulate. Fewer dopamine receptors means, your brain needs to release even more of this hormone than it would regularly need to, just to feel normal. The result is you feel depressed, until of course, you get your next hit. Just like any highly addictive pleasure-inducing substance, overtime you need more and more, not only to feel the same high, but simply just to feel normal.
Exercise is a healthy and effective way of making sure your brain releases safe levels of these pleasure-inducing endorphins. In addition, physical exercise provides your brain with the neurochemistry that adds new neurons in the area of your brain that is paramount to your memory and attention–which can help you with #1 and #5 ways to die happier.
In order to get up off the couch and want to exercise, you need motivation. How does one feel motivated? Oh ya, that would be dopamine again. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that regulates motivation. So in other words, no dopamine = no motivation. This is why depressed individuals tend to have little desire to even get up out of bed in the morning. To add fuel to the fire, there are two sides to your prefrontal cortex in the brain (right and left). Recent studies have shown that people who are generally enthusiastic about life and have a positive outlook, also tend to have increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex–this area of the brain is activated when we are focused and goal oriented. On the flip side, those who lean towards a depressive state, or heightened anxiety, have increased activity in the right prefrontal cortex–which is the area responsible for daydreaming and ruminating. Lack of motivation to do anything, makes it highly likely that you are not spending much time using the left prefrontal cortex and spending too much time using the right prefrontal cortex, exasperating and already miserable state.
Luckily, there is something that can be done about this. It has be proven, that you can change your emotional set point by simply making an effort to practice activities that require presence and focused attention. You can simply start by writing down your goals, and then taking action steps towards them. It makes it much less of an uphill battle if you do what truly inspires you. Overtime, this practice rewires your brain and eventually makes it easier to adopt the new habit of acting with purpose, thus increasing activity in the left PFC, leading to a generally more positive outlook and passion for life.
So there you have it, when it comes to your health, ignorance is not bliss. I’m no human happy calculator, but more sickness, less memory, more belly fat, more stress, less motivation and purpose doesn’t add up to more happiness to me.
I do realize that this was a long post, as it also took a lot of time and effort to write it, but I did it because I think there is no worse fate than being trapped in a miserable body. If you would agree, then try implementing these 5 things, and join me in my quest to die happy.
I was excited to share this recipe with you guys, because I got really good feedback on the granola recipe I posted a week or so ago. This yogurt goes really well with the granola and it’s such a great intro to raw “cooking”. This yogurt is so easy to make it’s kind of a joke.
Since I have learned how to make this yogurt I have made a slue of different raw salad dressings, dips, pesto pizza sauce and even frozen yogurt (recipes still to come) using this yogurt as a base.
2 cups of young thai coconut meat OR 2 two cups of soaked raw almonds (soaked for 24 hours) OR one cup of each
One cup of coconut water (bit more or less depending on how thick you want it)
1/2 teaspoon probiotic blend powder or 2 probiotic capsules (open the capsules and just use the powder)
Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Note: if you don’t own a vitamix or blendtec blender then you may NOT want to use the almonds. I also peel my almonds after they have been soaked, but it’s not imperative.
Pour mixture into a container that has a lid, but don’t put the lid on just yet. Cover the yogurt with paper towel and let it sit out for 4-6 hours (depending on the temperature and humidity of your room) until the probiotics start to activate and make the yogurt tangy. On hot humid days 4 hours should be sufficient and cold days you will need the whole 6 hours. You can taste it at 4 hours and if it’s really tangy like yogurt and it has thickened, then it’s likely ready. Cover with a lid and put it in the fridge.
This delicious yogurt should be good for a few days in the fridge.
If you don’t like the bits of almond skin in there then you can drain the yogurt through a cheese cloth.
To make the next batch you do not need more probiotics, a spoonful of the previous yogurt will be enough to culture the new batch. When you do this you will not need to let it sit out for the whole 6 hours. 4 hours should be enough time.
If your yogurt starts to go pink then you have left it out for too long and you should start over. DO NOT EAT PINK YOGURT PLEASE!
Good luck with this recipe and keep me posted on how your yogurt turns out.
Ever since I was a young girl I took my big sister’s words as gold. If she rejected an idea then I followed suit. If she approved of something, then there was a good chance I would do it. I have never gone ahead and done something that big sis’ disapproved of…until now. My sister, who doesn’t even have a Facebook account, can’t fathom why anyone would desire to put it all out there and start a blog. In fact, most of my friends and family who see how much I have on my plate at the present time, are a bit confused at my commitment to write.
This blog, like all the other crazy things I do, is centred around my great desire to maintain my own health and vitality.
I really enjoy writing, and feel more purposeful when I happened to write about the things in life that I am most passionate about. As soon I log onto my blog and tap away at my keyboard, nothing else seems to matter, time stops, I become present and focused, a tranquility fills my mind and a calmness sweeps into my space. This is the state where creativity lies.
The human body has always fascinated me, but I think I was the most enamoured by our design when I first learned about the direct link between creativity and healing.
I’ll never forget the day where I first grasped this information about the Autonomic Nervous System. Basically, that there are two parts; our Sympathetic Nervous System (flight or flight); and our Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and relaxation). In times of stress or crisis, we release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase our heart-rate, heighten our senses, raise our blood sugar, and allow us to become alert in preparation for a fight or flight from danger. Our Parasympathetic Nervous System is where our body repairs itself, digestion takes place, and where the immune and reproductive systems kick in. The two nervous systems work independently of each other. In other words, you cannot be in both systems simultaneously. Either you are in perceived danger and your body is in a reactive state, prepared for battle, or you are healing. At no time is your body able to do both. This is because our digestion, immunity, reproductive system, growth and repair etc. are extremely metabolically expensive. Our cleverly designed little bodies know that during a threat, these systems are not critical to our survival, and rather the energy needs to be saved for let’s say, to run from a sabre tooth tiger, or perhaps a tsunami.
Sure, it’s not often we have to run from a sabre tooth tiger these days (thank god), but any perceived threat or stress will kick your body into fight or flight. Constant worry, anxiety, fear of the future, stressful jobs, break-ups and so on, keep our bodies in a perpetual state of fight or flight. That is not what our stress response was designed for. It was meant to assist us in a short brush with danger. Once we either out ran the sabre tooth, or we somehow managed to kill it with our bare hands, we would then lay under a tree somewhere and relax. This continual state of emergency we tend to currently live in, means we are not giving our bodies enough time in PNS or rest and relaxation. Even when we do sit down and rest, we have a hard time turning our mind away from our crisis, so we remain under distress.
Okay, so what the hell does that have to do with me writing?
I only recently learned that creativity is only possible when you are in PNS. That means if you are doing something you love, something that requires no motivation, but simply inspiration, where hours can just pass by and you have completely lost your sense of time, then you have forced your brain to switch into a place where you are literally healing. This is why you might hear someone say that playing an instrument feels therapeutic to them…that is because it actually is!
Starting this blog required me to push through a lot of insecurities, as it puts me at greater risk of being judged or ridiculed. It goes against the advice of the person who’s opinion means the most to me. As someone who used her English class in high school as more of a spare block than anything else, it was with great difficulty that I came to the idea that I had any right to start a blog. But, once I learned the benefit of abandoning all those worries and just doing what I loved, as it relates to my wellbeing, then it became a paramount part of my wellness routine, just the same as exercising, eating well and positive thinking.
You may say that you are not creative, but it’s not true. Any activity that you get lost in: cooking, painting, gardening, etc. are spaces where you are healing. Whatever the belief you have that limits you from doing something that inspires you, it’s time to retire it, as those limiting beliefs are literally killing you.
When the voice and the vision on the inside become louder and more profound than the opinions expressed on the outside, then you have began to master your life.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Shares, follows and likes really give me the courage to keep going and are greatly appreciated.